By Patrice Smith
The Marching Tiger Band of Distinction will be high stepping in Charleston this weekend. The band, which is the pride of Benedict College in Columbia, will march in Burke High school’s homecoming parade this Friday at 4:00pm. Afterwards they’ll take to the football field during half time at West Ashley High school. The band was invited to perform by West Ashely’s principal, Lee Runyon, who says it’s important that students experience a collegiate marching band.
“We’re hoping this will spark students’ interest to take part in our band which is currently seeing a decline in its numbers. There are several reasons for that. One being that the county currently doesn’t put a lot of money into school band programs so it’s expensive. Parents often have to choose between band and other programs for their children to participate in,” Runyon says.
Charleston County School board member Kevin Hollingshead, an alumnus of Benedict College, is bringing the band to Charleston.
“I’m hoping that their performance will help revamp the band program at West Ashley.”
The Marching Tiger Band of Distinction is directed by McClellanville native Professor H. Wade Johnson, who says teaching is his calling but music is his passion. Johnson has traveled worldwide playing with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, the Temptations, the JB’s (James Brown’s band) and many others.
Charlestonian Ronald T. Green is the assistant director of bands at Benedict. A Burke High School graduate, he too has performed around the globe and has served as a consultant to high school band programs across the country.
South Carolina representative Wendell Gilliard will honor The Marching Tiger Band of Distinction with a resolution at the West Ashley game.